City officials want kids’ fast-food meals to be not just happy — but also healthy.
Councilman Ben Kallos is set to introduce a bill Thursday that would set stricter nutrition standards for kids’ meals that come with toys.
The proposed legislation would bar fast-food joints from offering free toys, coupons and other incentives with a kids’ meal if the food served contains more than 500 calories and more than 600 mg of sodium.
They want to require the meal to also contain at least half a cup of fruit, vegetables or a serving of whole-grain products.
Less than 1% of all kids’ meal combinations met recommended government nutrition standards, according to a study from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.“Throughout the fast food industry, you’re seeing that toys are being linked to meals,” said Kallos (D-Manhattan). “And as a result, we have a very high obesity rate.”
Kallos said he knows from his own childhood how strong the lure of meals with toys is for kids. He used to ask his mother to buy him McDonald’s Happy Meals just so he could get the trinkets, even though he was raised kosher and couldn’t eat the food.
If a fast-food chain violates the proposed bill, it would have to pay a fee ranging from $200 to $500 for a first-time offense; between $500 and $1,000 for a second offense; and between $1,000 and $2,500 for a third offense.A McDonald’s Happy Meal of a cheeseburger, fat-free chocolate milk, apple slices and fries has 555 calories and a whopping 880 mg of sodium, while a Burger King kids’ meal with a cheeseburger, apple slices and small drink has 280 calories and 630 mg of sodium.
City Councilman James Vacca and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will introduce a separate bill Thursday requiring the Department of Education to better advertise the city’s summer meals program.